About a group of survivors who have to fight for their lives against mutants that are created when humans breathe mysterious dark smoke from a sinkhole. Lee Hwa Sun is a police detective in the Seoul regional investigation unit. Lee Hwa Sun’s life is turned upside down when she receives a phone call from her husband’s murderer, telling her to come to “Mujishi.” However, the people in Mujishi have been transformed into monsters after breathing in a mysterious dark smoke. Lee Hwa Sun must not only fight to survive but also battle her fear in order to capture her husband’s murderer. Yoo Tae Han is a native of Mujishi and a wrecked car driver. He has a carefree personality and likes to joke around, but he has a strong sense of justice. He quit being a police officer due to a scandal caused by a misunderstanding, but he is proud of his days in the force. When he meets Lee Hwa Sun in the chaos of Mujishi, he devotes his life to saving others from danger. (Source: Naver, Soompi) Edit Translation
Cast & Credits
A different kind of pandemicMuch like how we’re all wearing our face masks to curb covid-infections these days, the folks in Dark Hole are doing the same but for a different outbreak - the kind that turns human beings into mindless zombies/ monsters/ mutants, though with varying effects for each person. So what makes this drama different from other similar stories and should you really be watching it? Let’s find out...
What is it about?
On the surface, it’s another zombie/ monster apocalypse story that draws parallels with the likes of Kingdom, Sweet Home, Rampant, Train to Busan, and even Joseon Exorcist. I haven’t seen #Alive and Peninsula but based on the synopsis and trailers, they appear to share a very similar premise).
But where Dark Hole differs from the rest lie in 3 aspects:
- The original source of the infection is extra-terrestrial
- The method of transmission is via a rather ominous black smoke (as well as bites/ scratches, apparently)
- The intended purpose of all this, which I won’t spoil here (to be honest, I’m not completely sure myself)
It’s an inventive spin on a well-loved and long-established genre. South Koreans sure love their zombies.
Far-fetched with seemingly endless sub-plots and countless characters. As far as apocalypse stories are concerned, this one infuses far more elements than I’ve noticed in other dramas. It’s set in modern-day South Korea in the small town of Muji. The scope of the story covers the entire town and in addition to the overarching mystery, we have mini character arcs, of which there are plenty. The notable action takes place at 5 main locations - the forest where the titular chasm lies, the local high school, the hypermarket, the municipal hospital, and one more which I won’t reveal to keep the suspense alive.
Speaking of story arcs, we have plotlines relating to a female police detective with a tragic past who is in pursuit of a serial killer who caused said tragedy; a “disgraced” former police constable with a sad family tragedy of his own which inadvertently resulted in his expulsion from the police force; a scorned female shaman who rediscovers her spiritual powers including the gift of precognition; a high school senior who is a victim of conspiratorial cover up pertaining to her father’s fatal accident, in addition to being bullied by her schoolmates led by a high school dropout who constantly harasses her. It doesn’t end there. Many more secondary characters with their respective mini arcs are featured throughout. The one thing most of them have in common, is their respective tragic backstories.
This drama is certainly not uneventful - the many characters and side stories make sure of that. The screenwriter is trying to interweave all these stories into the main plot but I think somewhere along the way, the overarching story very nearly got completely overshadowed. After a rather promising start with much potential, I found myself getting a little restless around the halfway mark. Having introduced the new characters into the story, their side stories eventually fizzle out without the slightest connotation of how they are connected to the situation at present.
For the most part, the script and characters are adequately written, with the main issue being that too many elements are included. Even for a 12-episode drama, it does feel a little dragged out with too many unnecessary sub-plots and characters. 8 to 10 episodes would have sufficed and probably 3 or 4 characters and their story arcs should have been left out. In the end they amounted to nothing anyway and I found myself hard-pressed to develop much, if any, emotional attachments to.
Dark Hole is an OCN production and billed as the fifth entry to its Dramatic Cinema Project, which is an initiative by the broadcast network to showcase the essence of well-made genres via productions that combine the format of movies and dramas. I think what this basically means is dramas that are the crème de la crème of OCN productions. I’m not exactly sure if this drama is deserving of that billing but for context, the first four entries to this project are Trap, Hell is Other People, Team Bulldog and Search.
The first ever drama directed by Kim Bong Joo, the screenplay is written by Jung Yi Do. Those familiar with his works would be aware that highly rated dramas Save Me and Strangers from Hell were written by him.
In general this is a decent production with regards to the technical aspects. The down-to-earth action sequences appear realistic while the use of visual effects in particular for “that thing” is appropriately utilized. The production design and use of multiple filming locations are seemingly well rendered. However, there isn’t much of a soundtrack or musical score of note to write home about. The stock music and sound effects used are serviceable for their intended purposes.
One of the main reasons I watched Dark Hole, aside from the fact that I love this genre and to ease my bitter disappointment from seeing Joseon Exorcist being cancelled, is Kim Ok Bin. It’s my first time seeing her drama in its entirety. Having caught glimpses of her in The Villainess and other productions, I’m aware of her reputation and credentials as well as recognition of her previous efforts for which she has received a great many acting honours. For this drama, being the FL Detective Lee Hwa Sun of the Seoul Regional Investigation Unit, I have absolutely no complaints with her performance. Understated, nuanced, and charismatic, she is good value for her portrayal and I’m a new fan.
Lee Joon Hyuk is an interesting choice for the role of ML Yoo Tae Han, although at times his character feels more like a supporting role than the lead. I’m more used to seeing him in suits after Stranger 1 and 2, but he was convincing as a decorated soldier in Designated Survivor as well. He gives a satisfactory portrayal of his role here, where he does carry the persona of a likeable character who would be great in a leadership role during times of crisis.
The rest of the cast, including the child actors, give a decent account of themselves. Special mention goes to Oh Yu Jin who plays the schoolgirl Han Dong Rim. My first time seeing this 21 year-old actress, I thought she did a remarkable job in projecting the chilling aura of mystery and eeriness surrounding her troubled and complicated character, which is one of the few in the show that I truly relished.
In my humble opinion, Dark Hole is not the best in the genre. But if you’re a fan of zombie apocalypse stories or any of the cast or even an OCN follower, this drama might appeal to you despite its flaws. It doesn’t end in a cliffhanger and I doubt there would be a sequel or continuation to the story, therefore providing viewers with a closure where everything is neatly wrapped up.
Good show, bad ending. TW: Violence & GoreDark Hole is a zombie apocalypse Kdrama with a slight touch of supernaturalism and fantasy with ths likes of Sweet Home but unlike Train to Busan which is a typically pure zombie drama.
T W: As the name suggests, the drama is dark, gore and scary. If your over-sensitive and fragile, watch it with precautions.
The drama is set up in a semi-urban South Korean city, Muji in the Jeolla province and involves a number of characters that includes major, supporting, minor to very minor ones just like a survival series should have. The drama focuses on a city mass-survival efforts of different groups of people. The main plotline mentioned above also includes few other major plots for the lead characters and numerous subplots to fit in the concept of compelling individual's interred angst for someone who has done injustice to them.
Dark Hole is about an extra-terrestrial being with unlimited power of rapid mutation. The method of changing people into mutants is the transmission of spore like black substances via a foggy smoke which turns people into monsters with immense power. The purpose is to gain control over human beings.
The most prominent character is a detective who comes to Muji to catch a serial killer, an ex-policeman who works as a towman, chief of a sub- police station, a failed shaman always seeking authority over people, a highschool girl, victim of tragic incidents and a 10yo girl who lost her mother in that incident; everyone commonly sharing a cataclysmic past. Unlike Sweet Home where everyone was stuck in the same building, Dark Hole has different group of people stuck at different places trying to run away from the mutants as well as the black smoke and escape from one place to another. And in that courses, they're separated and unified multiple times.
Most important part about this drama is that the plot development and twists at any instances will make you doubt about the genre of the drama. At a point you'll think it's zombie horror, but next you'll assume it to be sci-fi and after a while it will feel it's supernatural and so on. The fact that the writer kept us intrigued till the end proves how great he's as a screenwriter. FYI, the Jung Yi Do jakka-nim is the writer of dramas like "Save Me" and "Strangers from Hell". And for the matter of fact, Kim Bong Joo pdnim has done a very great job as the director even though it's his first, so a big round of applause for him.
The major cast has done their roles pretty well, specifically Lee Joon Hyuk, for whom a majority of people took interest in this drama has undoubtedly played his charismatic and daring character throughout the drama giving a satisfying result. Also, Kim Ok Bin noona's fierce character is such a treat; her acting, the stunt scenes and the moments she had to deal with the monster in the void, everything was accurate. Oh Yu Jin, the one playing the highschool girl had a difficult task to do but she has done a remarkable job too. Im Won Hae as a police officer is bit namby-pamby yet manages to handle things by risking his life for the honor of his job.
Screen editing, connecting plots, proper organisation of subplot are very good in the drama but some things are making me complain which I am pointing out. Even though the drama is a mixture of so many subplots to keep it intense and eventful, the cause of the drama seemed lost when the drama was heading towards the end; few of the plots perished into nothingness.
Around the midway of the 10th episode, the plot gradually started fastening that gave the feelings that they're trying to rush things but still manageable till the end of 11th episode. But what happenes in the 12th episode which is the finale was totally disappointing. They rushed the entire thing; given that so many things happened in just that episode, they could have extended it to one more episode giving it a smooth goodbye but Idk where did it go wrong. This very good drama just turned into an average thing just because of that episode. This indeed is an missed opportunity and could have been a lotttt better. They simply could have otherwise pur less content which would have not made it look rushed.
I am actually sad that it turned out be this after showing us it's potential during the entire thing but overally, it's not a bad show. I would rate 8.5 to it if I don't consider the last episode.